Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Power of Passion in a Networked World

We are moving to a more responsive, interactive, collaborative world, which is already disrupting conventional business models and releasing energies and new ways of doing things that create new solutions and opportunities. Personal interest, energy, passions, ideas and opinions - and little or no direct personal financial gain - are fuelling everything from Linux software to distributed computing in support of big science projects, to Wikipedia to blogs to indexed photo collections to and scientific publishing would appear to be next in line.
But, companies too can benefit from similar passion, if they respond effectively; as Lego found out recently. A group of its adult fans hacked into one of their design tools, but instead of shutting them out, the company welcomed them in: to collaborate and discuss options and ideas. Lego managed their boundaries and privacy flexibly to create committed pro-sumers. (see Hacking's a snap in Legoland; News.com)

Tim O'Reilly described the changes at the recent Web 2.0 conference "Web 2.0" stands for the idea that the Internet is evolving from a collection of static pages into a vehicle for software services, especially those that foster self-publishing, participation, and collaboration" (see Web 2.0 has arrived; Technology Review.com) as one of the best illustrations is the difference between the Encyclopaedia Britannica and Wikipedia. Other characteristics and indicative products of this new world can be found at What Is Web 2.0 (tim.oreilly.com)

Collaborative science projects using distributed desktop PC downtime to create sufficient computing power to support big projects, such as the project looking for life in outer space were an early example, back in 2000 (see Home computers add grunt to scientific discovery; (ABC)These were hotly followed by the development of Wikipedia in 2001 - which still has only one full time employee, but over 770,000 essays in English, nearly half a million contributors, 2 billion hits per month and is funded by donations.

Sheila Moorcroft, Research Director, Shaping Tomorrow

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